Yal-Ku Lagoon, Akumal, Mexico

yal ku lagoon Akumal Mexico

On our trip to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, we wanted to swim somewhere we would see a lot of fish and possibly other things like sea turtles.  We decided to try out Yal-Ku Lagoon, which is not far from Tulum, and just over 1.5 hours south of Cancun.

Yal-Ku is easy to find, and Google Maps directed us there as well. You turn east off the main highway (Carr. Cancun 307), and then continue on Playa Akumal, following the road as it turns north for a few miles.

Right when we turned off the main road and entered the town of Akumal, there were people telling us to stop.  This is not the case – they are trying to sell you tours and tell you where to go.  We simply continued on the road and both Google maps and road signs guided us to Yal-Ku.

Yal Ku Lagoon

We finally reached the Yal-Ku entrance.  The entrance is small – not somewhere you are going to see hoards of giant tour buses.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

We had a rental car and turned on the narrow road to find a tiny parking lot.  This part of the lagoon seems to be visited by tourists like us, just visiting on our own and not with a hotel or tour group.

Yal Ku Parking Lot

Right off the parking lot is the ticket counter.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

We bought our tickets and headed down a short path to the lagoon.

There are bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms, which is all very convenient.

You can also rent lockers for your stuff. We brought our own gear but you can rent snorkels, life jackets, etc.

Also note that regular sunscreen is not permitted.  The employees at the ticket counter saw us using sunscreen and were very concerned, but we had reef-safe sunscreen.  I recommend a long sleeve rash guard (so you can reduce your sunscreen use) and reef-safe sunscreen, both of which you can easily find on Amazon.

You start out in the end of the lagoon, working your way out to the ocean.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal

The entrance to the lagoon is very nice with large staircases entering the water.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

There are quite a few fish right away as you enter the lagoon.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

Even from land we could see blue tang, Sargeant Major, trumpet fish, and much more.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

My husband headed into the lagoon with the kids.  There were times the lagoon was very busy with tour groups (who had entered along other parts of the lagoon), and other times it was quiet.  We liked that by going on our own, we could spend however long we wanted there.

Yal Ku Lagoon

My kids (ages 8 and 10) did an impressive job swimming the lagoon.  They are both on swim team, so they snorkeled for quite a distance, and without life vests.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

The lagoon eventually meets the ocean.  The kids swam out to the reef but were too tired to spend a lot of time there.  There is a halocline where the fresh water mixes with the salt water, making things blurry.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

My husband headed back with the kids, continuing to explore the lagoon.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

The kids spent some time warming up and drying out on the deck, and we also had fun watching wildlife too.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

There were a bunch of iguanas sunning themselves around the lagoon on rocks (and the occasional backpack!).

Yal Ku Iguana

The walk from the dock back to the parking lot is just couple minutes, which is very convenient when you’re carrying all your equipment.

Yal Ku Lagoon Akumal Mexico

We had a great time at Yal-Ku Lagoon.  I didn’t even snorkel, and I enjoyed how peaceful it was to sit by the lagoon and watching the fish from above!  We were hoping the kids would get to see sea turtles when they made it out to the bay, but they didn’t see any.  We were told you can go to the Akumal beach for a good chance of seeing turtles as well, where there is a lot of grass growing in the water.  While we would have liked to try again, the kids were exhausted, so we passed.

The kids worked up an appetite, so after drying off and checking if it was ok to leave the car in the lot, we walked to a restaurant a few minutes away.

Visit Yal-Ku Akumal Lagoon & Snorkel on Facebook:

Yal-Ku also shows up as “Yalku Snorkel” on Google Maps.

What to bring:

~ Rash guards, reef-safe sunscreen
~ towels
~ Sandals
~ Snorkel gear if you don’t want to rent
~ Underwater camera
~ Change of clothes


~ Our other Mexico posts ~

Our Mayan Riviera wedding
Aldea Zama condo rentals, Tulum
Avant Car Rental, Cancun
Cenotes Casa Tortuga, Tulum
Coba Ruins, Coba
Fiesta Americana Villas, Cancun
Muyil Ruins, Tulum
Hacienda Tres Rios, Playa del Carmen
Punta Laguna Nature Reserve, near Coba
Xcaret, Playa del Carmen
Yal Ku Lagoon, Akumal
Zazil Kin Beach, Tulum

By | 2018-01-30T18:38:21+00:00 January 8th, 2018|Travel|38 Comments

About the Author:

Busy blogger and mom of two girls! We love traveling and the great outdoors, and are always looking for our next adventure!


  1. robin rue January 9, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    That sounds like such an amazing place to visit and experience with the family! I would love to go there with my family someday.

  2. Amber Myers January 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Oh wow, what a gorgeous lagoon! I would love to go here one day. My kids would love looking at all the fish.

  3. valmg @ Mom Knows It All January 9, 2018 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    What a great experience that must have been. I have always wanted to be up close with tropical fish like that, maybe snorkeling.

  4. Jeanette January 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Now that had to of been a trip of a lifetime. It looks like it was a beautiful place to go. I love to travel so I’m hoping at some point I can visit here myself.

  5. Sarah Honey January 9, 2018 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    This looks like an amazing trip! We love to snorkel and this looks like it was fantastic snorkeling.

  6. Lisa January 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    How amazing to even see that many fish from land. I bet once you were in the water it was just magical. Looks like an amazing place to visit.

  7. Franc Ramon January 9, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Yal ku lagoon looks really scenic and looks like everybody had a great time. You also were able to get wonderful underwater shots as well as pictures of the animals and fishes.

  8. Ashley January 9, 2018 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    We went snorkeling in the bahamas and it was a lot of fun. This place looks beautiful, I would love to visit there!

  9. Amber Ludwig January 9, 2018 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Oh my!! What a pretty oasis!! I love that you could spend as long there as you wanted!! Looks like a place I could experience ALL day long!!

  10. Sarah Bailey January 9, 2018 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness what an absolutely beautiful looking place to travel to. The photos from your snorkelling the water is so clear and I love the fact they you can see the fish so clearly.

  11. candy January 10, 2018 at 12:34 am - Reply

    Beautiful lagoon to visit and swim around in to see what is below the surface. Never been to Mexico at all. Looks and sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

  12. Pam January 10, 2018 at 12:47 am - Reply

    This looks like a beautiful lagoon. I would love to visit here one day. I definitely would go by myself and not with a tour group.

  13. Jill Robbins January 10, 2018 at 3:20 am - Reply

    This is paradise – I’ve never heard of this place – this would be a dream. I’d love to travel here.

  14. Ricci January 10, 2018 at 4:57 am - Reply

    Oh my!! I would love to travel to Mexico one day! Your photos are do GORGEOUS!!

  15. Heather January 10, 2018 at 5:43 am - Reply

    How fun! I’ve never been to that part of Mexico! I’m amazed at the fish, that they were so close and did t take off when you approached them. This will be a trip you never forget.

  16. Lyndsey January 10, 2018 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    these photos are amazing!!! you saw so many awesome things. what a great experience for your kids!

  17. hadassah January 10, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    omgee so pretty and looks like you had fabulous time! i need a vacation and i would love to go here!

  18. Ali || Veggies by Candlelight January 11, 2018 at 1:34 am - Reply

    These photos make me miss the warmth! I love all the activities and it looks like you all had a great vacation!

  19. Dhemz January 11, 2018 at 2:22 am - Reply

    how cool…and what a very neat place. I would love to visit this place someday. Thanks for sharing.

  20. The Little Habibi January 11, 2018 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Great photos. You definitely had a great experience. Makes me want to plan my next trip there.

  21. Mellissa January 11, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    The underwater snorkeling pictures are the best! Its nice that your kids are enjoying these great experiences.

  22. Nicole January 11, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Wow that place is stunning. I LOVE that it’s a small hidden treasure without tons of tourists around.

  23. Lynsey January 12, 2018 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Wow, this place looks absolutely beautiful! I love the clear water and those fish are beautiful!

  24. Carmen January 14, 2018 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Those are some amazing views. I wish we were there now.

  25. darla c January 14, 2018 at 2:52 am - Reply

    This looks so fun. Thays great the swim team helped them to swim the amount they did. What nice memories to have! Would love to go on a similar experience.

  26. Dana Rodriguez January 17, 2018 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    This looks like an amazing place to vacation and so much fun. Absolutely beautiful photos!

  27. shelly peterson January 20, 2018 at 9:32 am - Reply

    What a beautiful place. Looks like a great place to visit.

  28. Agness of a Tuk Tuk January 23, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Wow! This place seems like a piece of paradise, Marysa! Would you recommend this place as a good summer destination?

    • Marysa January 23, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      We went in November, so the water wasn’t particularly warm, and the evenings cool down. I think the summer would be a great time to go! It would be refreshing to spend so much time in the water on a hot day 🙂

  29. Rosie January 23, 2018 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    This is so nice, the Yal-Ku Lagoo is a place to make sure you stop by and enjoy. The fishes, the critters, the changing of the waters. I would want to go in summer with warmer water!!! Kids don’t mind the cooler water, though! And they are good swimmers!

  30. Janet W. January 30, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    This looks like a beautiful place to visit with my family! The water looks amazing!

  31. Cyndi Buchanan October 31, 2018 at 3:17 am - Reply

    This looks like paradise! Good tip on the sunscreen. I’m glad they are trying to protect the reefs. I really need to get down to Mexico.

  32. Jean October 31, 2018 at 4:36 am - Reply

    That’s a very beautiful place with clear waters and the fishes! This place looks like a must visit! I’ll wait till my son is a bit older for us to bring him here!

  33. Anshula October 31, 2018 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    I love that you can enjoy this place without snorkeling! Just sitting in the area and enjoying the serenity sounds like so much fun during a family trip.

  34. Peter October 31, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Fantastic! I’ve always wanted to go to a place like Yai-Ku Lagoon. I’m bookmarking this place, it’s probably because I’m just sooo fascinated with aquatic life!

  35. Kristine Nicole Alessandra October 31, 2018 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful place to visit! No crowds and the water in the lagoon is so clear! I love your photos of the fish and other wildlife. I would be terrified if I find an iguana on my backpack though. Scared of those reptiles!

  36. Michele Dennis November 1, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    It sounds like you all had a wonderful and memorable time at the Yal-Ku Lagoon. It looks like such a beautiful location.

  37. Daily Deals UK November 1, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the pics and the insight in to your lovely holiday, looking at this place for a wedding destination:)

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